This piece was original published in Mid Atlantic Builder & Remodeler Magazine in January/February 2009. Click here to see it in its original format.
Dear Fellow Remodelers:
I think we can all agree that change is in the air. From the White House down to the smallest single family home, our nation is bracing itself for changes in the way we live, do business, borrow money, educate our children and view the world.
The remodeling industry has already seen a lot of change — most of it not good. Business is down across the board, reflecting the world-wide credit crunch, fears about liquidity, uncertainty in the markets and the understandable tendency to “hunker down and wait” when faced with so much bad news, practically on a daily basis. When people see their home equity drop by tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s hard to convince them to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on that home.
In such times, of course, there are still opportunities and as I talk with my fellow remodelers, I am cheered by stories of successes even in this staggering economy. The sobering truth is that our business is under stress. So here are four tactics that every remodelers should pursue this year and every year:
Stay in touch with your customers and prospects. Referrals remind the largest single source of consistent leads in our industry. Your customers know you and trust you. Remind them that you’re still there, still producing and building and that you stand ready to help them or someone they know. There are plenty of people who will refuse to postpone their plans due to the economy and you need to be visible in order for them to find you.
Take advantage of “down time.” As a member of HBAM, you can take professional certification courses and become a Certified Graduate Remodeler, a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, a Certified Master Remodeler, a Certified Green Professional and more. Holding these certifications puts you a step ahead of your competition and lets you stand out from the crowd — and that’s even more important now and in the future. You can check out the courses and certifications offered at www.homebuilders.org/page/remodcertifications/.
Reach out to your fellow professionals. We’re all in this together and sharing experiences and ideas is a proven path to success. AT HBAM, we’ve arranged several excellent venues for you to socialize with your peers and fellow remodelers. We just held our 2008 Celebrity Chef Night in October, our 9th Annual Key Connections event is Wednesday, February 18, 2009, our Spring Dinner is held in April, the Awards of Excellence was in November and there are more. Consult www.homebuilders.org/page/Events/ or pull-down Event Listings link for a complete list.
Uphold your brand. I spoke about this in my last President’s Message, but it bears repeating. You have a valuable service to offer your customers — don’t dilute it! Yes, times may be tough right now, but we cannot and should not shortchange the quality and service that we have been delivering. If we do that, we will tear down what has taken years to build: our reputation; our Image; our BRAND.
It’s an adage of business that the companies who keep in touch with their customers and further improve their image during challenging times are the businesses that prosper most when times improve. Your HBAM Remodelers Council is ready to help you do just that. Call me at 410-808-5855 and I’ll be glad to talk further about how HBAM can make a positive difference for your company.
Be profitable and be well.
Donald F. Lynch, Jr., CGR, CAPS
HBAM Remodelers President